Biochemist Barry Sears propounded the Zone diet based on his desire not to die of a heart attack like the rest of the men in his family. The Zone diet tries to achieve balanced hormone levels and normal blood sugar levels. The term ‘zone’ refers to a hormonal balance in the body. The main principles of the Zone diet are:
- The Zone diet recommends consuming calories based on a balanced ratio of fat to protein and carbohydrates. It recommends a 40: 30: 30 ratios respectively for carbs, proteins and fats and studies have shown that the ratio can help to lose weight at a reasonable rate.
- The zone diet is thought to be easy to adjust to, and appears to have few side effects in terms of lower energy levels or fatigue or hunger.
- The idea is that when the body gets its calories in proper balance, it does not feel the need to store its calories as fat.
- The Zone diet also recommends the intake of certain fatty acids: Omega 3 and Omega 6. It is Sears who is said to have made Omega 3 such a buzz word in the health food industry.
- Sears does not advocate low fat diets, because he claims that when the body has to manage on a low fat diet it starts to produce more insulin, which in turn starts to store more fat. Also he points to the phenomenon of the last couple of decades that saw people switch to low fat diets and saw a paradoxical increase in obesity.
- It is Sears’ view that in order that the body to be able to burn fat, it needs to eat fat; i.e. fat consumption is necessary for fat burning.
- He does of course indicate that certain fats are healthier for eating than others. He claims that mono saturated fats make the person fell a sense of satiety or fullness. Consequently, the speed at which the carbs are absorbed by the circulatory system lessens. Since the carbs are absorbed slower, insulin levels are lower, and this means stored fat is expended.
- However if insulin levels are high, a person feels tired, and then the metabolism slows to compensate for this. The brain is starved of its fuel which is glucose, and this causes something called rebound hypoglycemia, which in turn causes sweet cravings.
- In a nutshell, the Zone diet is, “Eat as much protein as the palm of your hand, as much nonstarchy raw vegetables as you can stand for the vitamins, enough carbohydrates to maintain mental clarity because the brain runs on glucose, and enough monounsaturated oils to keep feelings of hunger away.”